2008 ISPE Annual Meeting & Other Thoughts
Nov 28, 2008

Starting up a new blog can be challenging. With well over 100 million blogs out there in the world, my thoughts are not likely to be even in the top half of those that are actively tracked. In the end, I’ve decided that the best way to start is to just be me, let you know what I’m thinking. And if my mom is the only that follows me, then that is fine with me (I love you mom!).

Towards the end of October, I attended the ISPE Annual Meeting in Boca Raton, FL, along with a couple thousand others. I needed to attend meetings related to my Certified Pharmaceutical Industry Professional (CPIP) certification, and so it was a good time to get caught up with some friends in the industry. I attended a couple days of presentations while I was there and found the proceedings to be very interesting. Moreover, I was really interested in the distinctively international flavor of the organization.

I last attended the ISPE Annual Meeting when it was in San Antonio, TX in 2004, when I was President of the Midwest Chapter. I remember the organization stating that it wanted to become more of a global organization because of the changing nature of the industry. They defined a number of strategies that would hopefully make this happen, and I kind of forgot about it because I was unable to participate for a few years. Fast forward to 2008, and in my first seminar, the guy on my right is from China and two people on my left are from France. The guy from China is busy starting up new pharmaceutical plants, moving new products into facilities, etc. —very impressive guy.

Anyway, this experience re-emphasized my thoughts about ISPE and how well-run an organization it is. This organization has consistently set goals and strategies to reach those goals. And they generally achieve most of the goals, using a large body of volunteers, most of who PAY just like everyone else in the organization. If all of us could follow through so well in our own organizations. If you’d like to check out ISPE, you can do so at www.ispe.org.

A couple other experiences that were interesting at ISPE. In that first session I went to, the presenters used some technology that allowed the audience to provide immediate feedback to answers using a keypad (example at http://www.audience-response.co.uk/PowerpointVoting.htm). The answers popped up immediately on a Power Point presentation, so we could all immediately see how many people were consultants vs. manufacturers, from US vs. Europe vs. Asia, etc. Cool technology!

Another presentation was by the top dog at a place called Gapminder. This guy has created software technology that enables you to see how different factors such as life expectancy and income per person are different in each country, over periods of time. The software was so powerful, Google has bought it, and it is available to the world to use. Go to http://graphs.gapminder.org/world to play with it. Try out some of the examples, such as Best Teeth in the World, Who has the most oil?, and Family size & length of life. Be sure to change the time frames at the bottom and hit play. You might be surprised to see how some things have changed over time.

Finally, while I’m on this tangent about world dynamics, you may want to go to www.globalrichlist.com. Plug in your salary and see how rich you are. It certainly gives you a different perspective when you see that a person at the poverty line in the US ($10,400) is in the top 13% of richest people in the world.

-Damian Gerstner